On September 24th 2017 I ran my first Berlin Marathon. To my big surprise, I made it in under 4 hours, although the race was absolutely not easy. Please find my full race experience here.
Travel & Accessibility
Getting to the Berlin Marathon is of course quite easy. You can go there by plane, car or train from various European cities.
When this blogpost was written, there were still two operating Berlin airports, Tegel and Schönefeld. The new airport Berlin Brandenburg was still not open. However, in case it will eventually be opened, Berlin Tegel will be shut down. (but who knows when this will happen?)
I took the train from Munich. But when this blogpost was written the new German rail connection between Munich and Berlin was not yet running, so the train journey took around 6.5 hours. The new connection should be substantially faster, taking only 4 hours. But even if you are coming from another German city: Berlin Hauptbahnhof is quite well connected.
Yes the Germans love their cars, so there are lots of lovely motorways without speed limit heading to the German capital. However think twice if you really want to drive to Berlin. You would also have to drive back with your sore legs. (at the time this blogpost was written, autonomous cars were not yet a thing). Also quite a lot of Berlin roads are blocked for the marathon, so definitely check out the road closures in advance.
Navigating inside Berlin is also really easy as it has a great suburban train and underground system. The Berlin Marathon Race expo and bib pick up took place close to the station “Gleisdreieck”. It is connected to the U1 and U2. The Berlin Marathon start is located in the Tiergarten Park. There is no underground station directly at the start, but a lot of them are just a few minutes walking away. The one I would recommend is Hauptbahnhof.
Pre-Race and Berlin Marathon Expo
The Expo was located in an old industrial brick building called Station Berlin. This had a nice flair, however I found it relatively small and very crowded. At the beginning runners and skaters had to seperate from the normal guests as the bib pickup area was quite small. Inside a partial one way system was in place, which made navigating difficult. The variety of stalls and vendors however was great. I needed to buy two very specific things which I found without any problems.
You had to collect your bib number numbers at the expo. There was no option to collect them at the start of the Berlin Marathon. The start line and finish line area was located in the northern area of the Tiergarten. It is a vast open area. Also the bags dropped were there. But beware, Berlin is one of the cities where you can select either a bag drop or get a poncho coat after the race to keep you warm. From there is is only a short walk to your start corrals. Already the paths there were completely overcrowded. We could enter our corral just 10 minutes before the start. And as always, there were not enough porta potties on the sides.
Berlin Marathon Race Course
The start and finish line of the Berlin Marathon is in the Tiergarten Park. The course first heads west past the victory column and then draws a half circle covering the North, East and South of Berlin. It then continues to Berlin City centre, passing famous sights like the Potsdam Square. 300m before the finish line you run through the Brandenburg gate, which is by far the best experience of the race. But beware, don’t stop running, this is not the finish line.
There were plenty of aid stations along the course with water and sportsdrinks. At some they also served bananas and coke and Red Bull. There was only one gel station. In Berlin drinks are handed out in cups. This means people then just disposed of them on the streets, and you are basically running on wet and slippery waste at every aid station. The situation gets worse, the further back you run. So be careful not to fall or trip over.
After the finish line you still have to walk quite a bit until you get back to the finish area. Volunteers first hand your medal and a foil to keep you warm. Then water and a sports drink. In the finish line area you could then pick up your poncho or pick up your bag. They had also set up an open air massage area and we were also served tea.
If you have not been to Berlin, it should be definitely on your list. It is such a vibrant city with so much history.
I can highly recommend the “Gedenkstätte Berliner Mauer”. This place full of History about the Berlin Wall and East and West Berlin. You can see a old part of the Berlin Wall and you can read about the lives of the people who were directly confronted with the splitting in east and west and also about the people who were killed in the attempt to escape on the wall.
Next to the Brandenburg Gate you will find the “Holocaust-Mahnmal”. It’s an impressive monument for the murdered Jews in the World War two.
- Museum Island Berlin
At the Museum Island Berlin you can visit a lot of different museum or just make a walk trough. The UNESCO describes it as the most outstanding example of the concept of the art museum that owes its origins to the Age of Enlightenment, thats why it’s on the Museum Island Berlin in the World Heritage List.
- Flea Market at Mauerpark
On Sundays you have to visit the Mauerpark and the Flea Market over there. The Mauerpark is full of different people, filled with music and karaoke and a lot of craziness.
If you are interested in urban music and culture in Berlin you just need to go to the Holzmarkt and let yourself be surprised.
Did you like this race review? Then check out my review from Berlin Half Marathon!
Do you want to run a Marathon yourself? Check out my blog post on the best Marathon gear, pacing strategy and tips for your first Marathon.